Every spring, Lexington's historic track fills with life. Some of it, you see. Most, you don't.
The crowds that pack into Keeneland for spring racing feel the buzz at the rail and the betting windows, see the picture of the paddock, experience the rush of each race. There's much more unseen to see here.
For 24 hours, Herald-Leader visual journalists Alex Slitz and Caitlyn Stroh looked inside that part of Keeneland.
They began at the end — the final race of an April Friday — arriving just in time for Lexington native Kenny McPeek, a graduate of Tates Creek High School and the University of Kentucky, to win race number 8 of the day with a horse named Harlan Strong. The following day McPeek and his team would race the Dixiana Elkhorn.
After race 10, Keeneland goes quiet. But not completely still.
Before sunrise, the quiet lifts. On this Saturday, the spring light glows.
Grooms arrive between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. The first workouts of the day are on the track well before dawn. During morning workouts, McPeek orchestrates dozens of tailored rides. Kentucky Derby contender Good Magic works out during the same session as McPeek’s Kentucky Oaks contender Eskimo Kisses.
For the Dixiana Elkhorn, McPeek has flown in Jorge Ricardo, the winningest jockey in racing history, to ride Some In Tieme.
Keeneland staffers prepare for the influx of people. There’s food to be made, money to be counted, bars to be stocked. Just before first post, jockeys go into their daily devotional in the jockey’s quarters. UK’s acoUstiKats sang the national anthem and My Old Kentucky Home.
And then there are the sights and sounds that any Keeneland visitor associates with the track.
In the first race of the day, jockey Aubrie Green pulls off a major upset, riding Mansoor to a 25/1 upset.
From there, it's bourbon and betting. And the thrill of a beautiful spring afternoon of racing at one of Kentucky's most distinctive places.